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Tell Us What You Think: The First Survey of Mac DevCenter Readers

by Derrick Story

Editor's Note (4-18-03) -- After just one week, we've now closed the survey. Turnout was terrific!. Thanks to everyone who participated. The follow up article summarizing the results should post within a couple weeks. Drawing winners will be notified at that time.

Well, it's about time, isn't it? We launched Mac DevCenter over two years ago, and this will be our first survey offered to readers. Just like everything else we do on this site, we have a plan, and I want to lay it out for you right here. Hopefully, you'll think it's a decent plan and participate in the survey itself.

How It Looks

For those of you familiar with Zoomerang's surveys, this is one of those. It's fairly short; I took it in less than 10 minutes, clicking on buttons that represented how often I visited the site, what technologies I work with, etc.

There are 25 multiple-choice questions (all on one page), plus a text field that allows you to submit comments up to 200 characters long. There's also a field for you to enter your email address if you want to enter a drawing for three O'Reilly books (of your choosing) plus a 25th Anniversary T-Shirt. Five winners will be selected from survey participants.

Our Motivation

We want this information for three primary reasons:

  • To shape online editorial direction. If I see, for example, that a significant number of you are using RubyCocoa to deploy apps, then I'm going to start gathering content in that area to publish on Mac Dev.

  • To influence book titles we pursue. Books are a lot harder to publish than online articles, and we want to make the best choices possible for our audience. This information could be the tipping point when debating between one title or another.

  • To describe our audience to sponsors. We try to make Mac DevCenter self-sufficient and not draw revenue away from our book program, especially in these tight times. But as you know, sponsorships are hard to come by these days. We can increase our odds of signing up a sponsor by having good information for them about the type of visitors we attract. The more self-sufficient we can make Mac DevCenter, the more secure its future.

In case you're wondering, we will not share the email addresses of survey participants with advertisers. That would actually undermine our business plan. Instead, if they want you as a customer, they have to attract your attention via our web site or through sponsoring our newsletters.

Your Motivation

OK, I'm going to give you the noble reason, then I'm going to appeal to your sense of competition.

First, the noble reason. We want to continue to offer Mac DevCenter for free. Your participation in this survey helps us do that by providing us with the demographic information we need to attract sponsors.

Plus, we want to give you the editorial content you want. If nobody is interested in IP over FireWire, I certainly don't want to waste your time publishing articles on it.

But there's something else too ... Not long ago we ran a similar survey on, and we got a killer response--500 surveys completed in the first week. And they were offered the same incentive as you are here: the possibility to win three books and a T-shirt.

Now to be honest with you, ONJava is already getting the better of us in weekly page hits--about 25 percent more than Mac DevCenter. The last thing I want is for them to kick our butt in this survey too. Personally, I'd rather we do the butt-kicking.


Oh, and there's just one more thing. After the numbers are in and compiled, I'll write a brief summary of the results and publish them here on Mac DevCenter. Seems like you'd want to know who your comrades are. I think it's going to be interesting.

Now's a Good Time

All you have to do is click on the survey link and tear through the multiple choice questions. Please add a brief comment about what you'd like to see offered here, or what you don't want to see. If you have more to say than can be captured in 200 characters, take the survey first, then send me an email, and I'll factor your comments into the final report.

And finally, thanks for your support these last two and a half years. I've really enjoyed being your Mac editor.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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